Grilled Appetizer Recipes That Turn Any Gathering Into a Party
One of the many reasons we love grilling is it gives us the chance to both cook and eat outside. You can take this outdoor frame of mind one step further by ditching cooking kitchen altogether for your next gathering. Sometimes we like to begin a cookout with make-ahead appetizers, like a favorite dip or a decadent cheese board, but we also think there's something special about grilling our starters instead.
As it turns out, there are so many different appetizers that lend themselves to grilling. Skewers are an obvious—and delicious—option, and we're not just talking about meat or chicken; you can also use skewers to corral smaller foods that might slip between the grates, like fava beans, Grilled Peas with Coconut, or meat-and-vegetable combos such as padron peppers and chorizo. A shrimp appetizer is always a crowd pleaser, but a grilled shrimp appetizer is even better. Our Spicy Grilled Shrimp skewers get an infusion of Thai-inspired flavor thanks to a marinade and dipping sauce made with chili paste and fish sauce.
Grilling elevates the simplest foods: Sure you could toast the bread for bruschetta, but this dish tastes (and looks) so much better after a pass on the grill. The same is true for corn, sausage. What doesn't benefit from the smoke and char of the grill?
There are also foods you might not think to grill but once you taste how good they are grilled, you'll be sold. Yes, we're talking about grilling cheese—not a grilled cheese sandwich, but rather a whole wheel of cheese. Let's just say it beats baked brie any day. Now it's time to take the party outside with the rest of our grilled appetizer recipes
Grilled Bread and Chiles with Burrata
Smoky, charred bread with an assortment of grilled chiles and sweet peppers is perfectly complemented by the soft, creamy cheese. This is an appetizer sure to make mouths water.
An antipasto platter combining grilled and non-grilled elements is a winning way to start a party. The grilled eggplants and squashes get a sweet-and-sour marinade full of plump raisins and briny capers. They can even be prepped the day before if you like, then all that's left to do is toast some crusty Italian bread and arrange them on the platter with cheeses and cured meats.
Grilled Tomato Bruschetta
Use a hot grill to char halved plum tomatoes and thick slices of country bread to create this bruschetta. Combine the tomatoes with minced garlic, red-wine vinegar, red-pepper flakes, and fresh basil before mounding on the grilled bread.
Grilled Fava Beans
Never grilled beans before? Your guests will be delighted by this deliciously charred, shell-it-yourself appetizer.
This recipe has only one ingredient: clams. The shells are placed directly on the grates of the grill to steam open under the grill lid. Their natural juices are the only flavorings required. Place clams in a pot or bowl for serving, discarding any unopened ones.
Padron Peppers Skewered with Chorizo
Take tapas to the grill with these skewers of smoky chorizo and spicy peppers.
Grilled Shrimp and Bacon with Lemons
Everything in this dish is grilled—even the lemon slices, which you can treat as a garnish or nibble on with the shrimp. Grilling the shrimp in their shells helps them retain their flavor and keeps them from being overcooked.
Grilled Corn Disks
Enjoy sweet summer corn in a new way—as an hors d'oeuvre for a casual party.
Grilled Italian Sausages and Tomatoes on Focaccia
Grilled summer tomatoes tossed with fresh oregano make the perfect platform for tantalizingly charred sausages.
Chicken Satay with Peanut-Chutney Sauce
A creamy, tangy sauce of peanut butter, mango chutney, lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce gives these chicken breast skewers irresistible appeal. In place of the chicken, you can also use beef, lamb, salmon, shrimp, or extra-firm tofu.
Kielbasa Bites with Grainy-Mustard Potato Salad
Links of Polish sausage are grilled to highlight their garlicky flavor. Sliced into small pieces, they contrast nicely with buttery Yukon gold potatoes with a light coating of grainy-mustard vinaigrette.
Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro, Lime, and Peanuts
East meets West with this reinterpretation of traditional Louisiana grilled shrimp: Put shrimp on the fire until just pink, then toss with a Vietnamese-inflected sauce of lime, cilantro, and peanuts.
Grilled Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto
It only takes a few ingredients—thin slices of salty prosciutto, delicate scallops, olive oil, lemon, and pepper—to make these quick-cooking skewers that are an elegant starter to or an easy addition to any grilled menu.
Asparagus Wrapped in Pancetta with Citronette
To make this vegetable antipasto from Mario Batali, wrap fat asparagus spears in pancetta before searing on the grill. Drizzle them with citronette—vinaigrette made with orange juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and extra-virgin olive oil—and sprinkle with fresh thyme before serving.
The citrus marinade for these shrimp is spiked with tequila, which makes for a very flavorful grilled appetizer.